by Mike McNamee Published 01/08/2008
The big influence on ink is the cartridge size. The Epson largeformat printers (eg 3800 upwards) are significantly less expensive to run than the 2400. In fact no more Epson 2400s are scheduled for delivery to the UK and so the new user will have to go for the 2880 with its even smaller cartridges, but with claims for better ink utilisation (there - we said it was complicated!).
Given that the cartridges are a key influence, it is not surprising that a sub-market in continuous ink-flow systems has developed. Fotospeed, Lyson and Permajet all supply these systems and all can supply ink in at least 125ml bottles ( some going up to 500ml if you are a really heavy user!). These systems bring the running costs of the 2400-type machine down to a comparable level to that occupied by the 24" large-format machines. This has proven to be attractive to the enthusiast printer and a smattering of professionals.
What about silver? We spoke to Pro-Am Imaging of Bradford. They are so busy making 'real' prints that they now have three processors (AGFA d-labs, as were) and have started round-the-clock, shift working (that's a lot of prints, they can cope with around 20,000 a shift if pushed!). They operate in such a way that deliveries are processed and returned on the day after receipt. Like all of us they are suffering from the behaviour of the Post Office so they use FedEx for a fast reliable next-day service for all mainland non-remote deliveries. (see Mike's rant in the call-out). And the cost of a 10x8? 50 pence - a bargain! The rule for deciding between in-house inkjet and the laboratory remains the same as ever.
Inkjet cannot compete on large print runs unless you have plenty of time on your hands and a spare computer to act as a print server.
To help Pro-Am follow the rules. Size your images to the final required dimensions, but at 402ppi. Then use Convert to Profile in Photoshop and use the icc profile from the Pro-Am website (http://www.proamimaging. com/profiledownload.html). Pro-Am will then print your file without making any adjustments and the extra 2ppi over 400 will ensure that you have a perfect bleed right to the edge of your print - easy peasy. It is your job to calibrate your screen and get the prints the way you want them, that is why the service is so fast and relatively inexpensive. Pro-Am presently receive the bulk of their orders on CD/DVD although they are exploring FTP for the near future.
They call this service do they? Users of laboratories should take note of the new, painin-the-neck, over-fussy postal charges. Anything that is too large or too thick will be delayed. We recently had a single-sheet paper proof take five days to arrive. It had to be driven for collection, at a restricted time, from the central post office. There we duly passed over the £1 penalty, all for the sake of sixpence on the stamp. This for a service that delivers our mail at 3pm some days and collects it once per day just before nightfall (except Sunday and Bank Holidays when they don't even bother and winter, when it's actually after nightfall). If we wish to test whether our mail will get past the stringent 'laws', we have to take ourselves to the Post Office - while we still have one, (three down, three to go at the last count, locally).
The irony is that the proof that was too large was a single sheet A4, in a paper envelope.
The Post Office have spent the last 12 years folding envelopes that had big 'Do not bend' stickers on them into as many subdivisions as were necessary to force it through the letter box. Their record was an A2 board-back folded so that it came through a standard letter box. This was some feat, we attempted to do it a second time ourselves and failed! Do not imagine, by the way that your 1mm DVD will be safe if you put a foam-board in the envelope, in an attempt to get them not to bend it; it will cost you the £1.06 (£1 plus the missing 6 pence) because it will be too thick. Even a greetings card with a silly badge is likely to arrive after the 50-year-old's birthday or whatever.
If you put the CD/DVD in a jewel case it will very definitely be too thick, but you should also add the cost of the case (always more than the DVD these days) because the chances of it surviving are remote. It is in the lap of the gods as to whether the splintered jewel case will also take out your DVD, it might.
The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
You have 253 days until The Societies of Photographers Convention starting on Wednesday 15th March 2023